Washington, June 26 (ANI): The US Homeland Security committee has unanimously approved a cyber-security bill on Thursday, that had earlier prompted concern about a presidential "Internet kill switch."
The bill, titled Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act, will be put to a vote on the Senate floor shortly.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, lobby groups and academics quickly rounded on the bill, which seeks to grant President Barack Obama broad emergency powers over the internet in times of national emergency.
Any internet firm and provider must "immediately comply with any emergency measure or action developed" by a new section of the US Department of Homeland Security, dubbed the "National Centre for Cybersecurity and Communications".
However, the critics have opined that instead of combating terrorists, it would actually do them "the biggest favour ever" by terrorising the rest of the world, which is now heavily reliant on cyberspace.
This week, 24 privacy and civil liberties groups sent a letter raising concerns about the legislation to the sponsors saying that it could limit free speech and free inquiry.
"We are concerned that the emergency actions that could be compelled could include shutting down or limiting internet communications," the letter stated.
"The President already had authority under the Communications Act to "cause the closing of any facility or station for wire communication" when there is a "state or threat of war", the paper quoted the senators, as saying.
The senators rejected the "kill switch" claim, saying, "under the new bill the President would be far less likely to use the broad authority he already has under current law to take over communications. It would provide a precise, targeted and focused way for the President to defend our most sensitive infrastructure". (ANI)